Prescription Drug Addiction: Side Effects, Statistics, and Treatment

Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in the United States. With nearly one-third of all Americans are currently taking at least one prescription drug, access to medications are at an all time high. Over the last two decades, overdose deaths have increased by more than four times. Furthermore, overdose deaths due to prescription drugs have outnumbered deaths due to heroin and cocaine since 2002.

The current epidemic is believed to be a result of the misinformation about the addictiveness of prescription drugs as well as the perception that they have less harmful side effects when compared to illicit drugs such as meth or cocaine. The non-medical use of prescription drugs is highest among teens and young adults with nearly 70% of them getting the drugs from friends or relatives.

Prescription drugs are abused for a variety of reasons including to feel accepted due to peer pressure, reduce appetite, relieve pain, and improve work performance.

What type of prescription drugs are abused?

There are three classes of prescriptions that are commonly abused: opioids, stimulants, and depressants such as anti-anxiety medications. Symptoms and side-effects vary drastically among those suffering from prescription drug addiction due to the wide variety of drugs taken.

Opioid painkillers can cause low blood pressure and slowed breathing, resulting in a significant risk of death in case of overdose. Other symptoms of prescription opioid abuse include:

  • Constipation and Nausea
  • Euphoria
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Confusion and poor coordination
  • Increased pain with higher dosage

Anti-anxiety medications can also cause slowed breathing, low blood pressure, as well as memory problems. Sudden withdrawal can cause hyperactivity and seizures. Other symptoms of prescription anti-anxiety medication abuse include:

  • Drowsiness and confusion
  • Unsteady walking
  • Slurred speech and dizziness
  • Poor concentration and memory loss
  • Slowed breathing

Stimulants can result in extremely high body temperatures, heart problems, seizures, and paranoia. Other symptoms of prescription stimulant abuse include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

  • In 2014, 2.1 million Americans used prescription drugs outside of their prescribed usage for the first time within the last year.
  • 54 million people have misused prescription drugs at some point in their life.
  • In 2011, 1.2 million emergency room visits were attributed to the non-medical use of prescription drugs, more than half of all E.R. visits related to drugs.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Residential treatment centers like Recovery Coasts offer hope to those suffering from addiction. As experienced with other drugs, detox can be physically painful and mentally exhausting. Our trained staff will always work to provide you or your loved one with the utmost care in order to ensure they are as safe and comfortable as possible throughout the process. Counseling is also a crucial part to recovery in a group and personal setting.